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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

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Alzheimer's Disease Frequently Asked Questions

3. I'm having trouble getting my loved one to eat. What can I do? continued...

General guidelines:

  • Talk to your loved one's doctor. Sometimes, poor appetite is due to depression, or other treatable problems.
  • Don't force feed. Try to encourage the person to eat, and try to find out why they don't want to eat.
  • Avoid serving non-nutritious beverages.
  • Try to get your loved one to eat more protein and healthy fats and less simple sugars.
  • Offer small, frequent meals and snacks.
  • Encourage your loved one to walk or participate in other types of light activity to stimulate appetite.
  • Consider serving finger foods that are easier for the person to handle and eat.
  • Remember to treat the person as an adult, not a child. Don't punish the person for not eating.

Meal guidelines:

  • Serve beverages after a meal instead of before or during a meal so that your loved one doesn't feel full before beginning to eat.
  • Plan meals to include your loved one's favorite foods.
  • If insufficient calories is a problem, try getting your loved one to eat the high-calorie foods in the meal first.
  • Use your imagination to increase the variety of food you're serving. Prepare meals that offer a variety of textures, colors, and temperatures.

Snack guidelines:

  • Don't serve foods that provide little or no nutritional value, such as potato chips, candy bars, colas, and other less healthy snack foods.
  • Choose high-protein and high-calorie nutritious snacks.

Dining guidelines:

  • Make food preparation an easy task: choose foods that are easy to prepare and eat.
  • Make eating a pleasurable experience, not a chore; for example, liven up your meals by using colorful place settings and/or play background music during meals.
  • Try not to let your loved one eat alone. If you are unable to eat with your loved one, invite a guest.
  • Use colorful garnishes such as parsley and red or yellow peppers to make food look more appealing.

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